Rugby shake-up

Six Nations set to be impacted by new global tournament

Sir Bill Beaumont
New era: Sir Bill Beaumont

Scotland will compete in a new international rugby tournament which could see a squeeze put on the Six Nations Championship from 2026.

World Rugby announced the new competition as part of a radical shake-up to the professional game, which will also see the 2027 World Cup expanded to 24 teams.

The Nations Championship will feature two divisions each comprising 12 teams.

The Six Nations sides will be grouped alongside Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with two other countries yet to be confirmed but Fiji and Japan are likely to get the nod.

The second division will be made up of a further 12 international teams, with the new tournament being staged every two years in between World Cups and British and Irish Lions tours in November and July.

The tournament begins in two years’ time, with promotion and relegation only starting to feature in 2030.

The move is set to impact the Six Nations schedule, with the loss of one of the two rest weekends meaning the tournament will be played over six weeks instead of the traditional seven-week period.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “It is fitting that we finish Rugby World Cup 2023, the sport’s greatest celebration of togetherness, with the sport’s greatest feat of togetherness. Agreement on the men’s and women’s global calendars and their content is the most significant development in the sport since the game went professional.

“An historic moment for our sport that sets us up collectively for success.

“We now look forward to an exciting new era for our sport commencing in 2026. An era that will bring certainty and opportunity for all. An era that will support the many, not the few, and an era that will supercharge the development of the sport beyond its traditional and often self-imposed boundaries.”

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